Exploring Durham: Reunion time in the summer sunshine

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 11:38 AM

This month Exploring Durham is looking at places in Durham to celebrate life from a more personal perspective.

A great family reunion can provide a lifetime of memories, rekindle relationships, and strengthen connections between generations. Although they take a lot of planning and work, the results are more than sufficient compensation for the efforts. Some people opt to hold their reunion at a restaurant or hotel to make planning and execution easy, but for those who want to plan and implement everything themselves, there are other options available. 

Earning the title “Playful City USA” in 2013, Durham has an extensive parks system providing a wide variety of settings for gatherings.  The Durham Parks and Recreation Department (DPR) manages facilities that offer everything from playgrounds to lake fronts,  picnic shelters to campsites, and indoor facilities, too.  There are even two ropes courses for those looking for a family challenge.

With the city having more than 60 parks and recreational areas, Explore Durham won’t be able to cover them all, but here are a few favorites:  Just south of Downtown Durham, the open spaces of Forest Hills Park are ideal for Frisbee or kite flying, while offering the convenience of a playground, picnic shelter and tennis courts on site to accommodate a full day of activities. North of Downtown is Duke Park with its massive playground structure and natural areas for exploring. Both are convenient to major roads and are easy to find.

If boating, water skiing, tubing and fishing are more in line with the family’s interests, Lake Michie and Little River Lake, both in northern Durham County, have boat ramps and boat rentals. The natural beauty and ease of access on a quiet river also makes for a great setting for a family get-together, and West Point on the Eno offers a full range of amenities to host a large group there.

When the weather is less suitable for being outdoors, DPR has options with indoor facilities like the Durham Armory in Downtown Durham, and Spruce Pine Lodge in Bahama – the former best for larger groups, and the latter for smaller, more intimate gatherings.  The Durham Armory was originally built to house a National Guard company, but shined as an event venue as far back as 1955 when a debutante ball was held there.  Spruce Pine Lodge is of a similar vintage, and today offers 2,500 square feet of country charm appointed with modern amenities.

With two interstate highways, RDU International airport just minutes from Downtown Durham, and service by both train and bus service, getting the family to Durham is easy. In fact, Durham is only a day’s drive or an hour’s flight from more than half the U.S. population. Once they are here, the fun can begin at a variety of places ideally suited to family fun for all ages.

Did You Know? Durham Parks and Recreation has online resources showing all of the parks in Durham. Go to www.durhamnc.gov and type “parks” in the search box.

The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) is Durham’s official marketing agency. For more information about things to see and do in Durham, visit www.Durham-NC.com and www.DurhamEventCalendar.com, or stop by the Visitors Information Center at 101. E. Morgan St. in Downtown Durham and pick up the Official Durham Visitor & Relocation Guide.